What is a codicil?

What is a Codicil?

Even after its creation, there are times that you might need to make changes to your Last Will and Testament. Significant or large changes such as a change of spouse or beneficiary, adding a new asset, or changing the distribution of monies will typically entail creating a new Last Will and Testament.

However, in some cases you might only need to make some minor changes to your Will. In those circumstances a codicil could be used.

A codicil is an additional legal document that addresses and makes changes to a specific aspect of an existing Will, and one that does not hold too serious a consequence. Examples of these kinds of changes might be;

  • Changing your surname (or a beneficiaries’ surname), i.e. due to a change in marriage circumstances or a change of name by deed poll
  • Removing someone named in your Will who has died
  • Making small amendments to the distribution or provision of assets, i.e. altering a cash legacy

Are there drawbacks to a codicil?
In days gone by, before today’s technology was available, any changes to a Will would involve having to totally retype or handwrite a completely new Will document from beginning to end. Thus a Codicil was a cheaper and easier method of making changes to an existing Will.

These days, where data is stored on computer, it is far more efficient and easier to produce a new Will to include all changes, even minor ones. This is particularly applicable if the update is made by the same company that produced the original Will document.

Because a codicil is a separate accompanying document to the will, it is possible to lose the Codicil and so any amendments you made could be lost. Additionally, because a Codicil is an amendment to a specific part of the whole Will, it can sometimes be easier to challenge; plus creating a codicil involves similar processes to creating a whole new Will and so may not be any cheaper.

Considering the time and effort involved, creating a new Will is the standard advice in the majority of situations.